By Francis Wakefield
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison did not discount the possibility of the resumption of peace talks with the government in late June of this year.
Sison made the response as his reaction to news reports that President Duterte is eyeing July as the possible month for the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Reds.
Sison said as far as the peace panels are concerned, the peace talks shall begin on June 28 in Oslo, Norway as present plans indicate.
“That is close to July anyway but not in Manila,” he said.
Sison said that if the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) negotiating panel agrees to a stand down agreement with the GRP negotiating panel, the CPP and NPA also agree and will follow the terms of the stand down agreement.
“The stand down agreement creates a favorable atmosphere for the resumption of the formal peace negotiations and the interim peace agreement to be signed in Oslo, Norway hopefully on June 28, 2018,” Sison said.
Sison, at the same time, said it is premature for the GRP or anyone to suggest that the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations to be held in the Philippines.
“Foreign neutral venue as mutually agreed upon in JASIG is the best. [A] Phlippine venue at this time would make the peace negotiations vulnerable to control by the GRP or to sabotage by ultra-reactionary elements,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed reservation over the stand down agreement being proposed by the communist side.
He said they still have to consult with the government’s peace negotiators led by GRP Peace Panel head Silvestre Bello III and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza.
“We still don’t know because Secretary Bello is still in the Netherlands talking with his counterparts on the other side,” Lorenzana said.
“We have to consult with our negotiators before we have a stand down. And what do they mean about stand down?” he said.
Lorenzana said a stand down could be a halt in operations. However, he said there is a possibility that the other side will continue with their attacks and recruit new members.
“Aside from that,, some of their members might again take over or control barangays which was regained by the military through various operations,” he said.